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Are You Inclined to Eat More at Night?

By Elisa - Jenny Craig

It’s been "one of those days"you know the kindthe day at work where everything went wrong; your child came down with the flu, or there’s just too much to do with too little time. When you get home, you realized you forgot to eat throughout the day, so you grab a few snacks. Before you know it, you can’t recall how much you’ve eaten before dinner. Sound familiar?


If so, you’re not alone. There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests people may be predisposed to eating larger meals in the evening,1 especially if they’ve skimped on food earlier in the day. Because satiety is lower as the day goes on, it can be easy to eat dinner or snacks and then feel the urge to eat again, shortly after.2 So how can you combat your body’s tendencies?

Front-loading your calories may be the answer. Read on as we explore why eating a substantial breakfast may prevent your evening food habit.


EatMoreatNight_FrontLoad2.jpgWhen trying to lose weight, it’s a common myth that it’s a good idea to skip breakfast or eat something very light in the morning. Or, perhaps you’re trying to offset a large dinner from the night before, so you skip the morning meal. Recent research3 suggests that there is a link between eating breakfast and having a decreased risk for high cholesterol and blood pressure. So, eating breakfast is a good idea, not only to help with weight loss, but also for your heart! 


Another win for breakfast is that by making it one of the largest meals of your day, you may be setting yourself up for more weight loss. One study4 divvied up participants getting the same number of calories into two groups: the first group had a large breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner; the second group had their meals in small-medium-large order. The group that ate the larger breakfast showed a two-and-a-half times greater weight loss than the latter group. The report concluded that a, “high‐calorie breakfast with reduced intake at dinner is beneficial and might be a useful alternative for the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome.”5


EatMoreAtNight_Breakfast.jpgWhat makes this study even more telling? Hunger suppression was cited among the large breakfast eatersreaffirming that by loading up on more food early on, you may be able to avoid late-night snacking impulses.


Janet Nash, registered dietitian for Jenny Craig explains, “From dawn until mid-afternoon, our metabolism is optimal and the body is most efficient at burning calories as fuel. So it makes sense for us to prioritize consuming most of our calories earlier in the day when our metabolism is optimal and avoid eating large meals in the evening, when the body is winding down and getting ready for bed.”6


This is why Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, is designed with a specific eating pattern that includes a larger breakfast. With three meals and three snacks spread throughout the day, the plan may better stave off hunger that might result in overeating.


Front-loading your calories aligns with your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which in simplest terms is your internal clock. Rapid Results recommends a 12-hour “nourishment” period that starts with a well-balanced breakfast and ends with a lighter supper. For the next 12 hours, your body can focus on “rejuvenation,” which also includes sleep. This timing can help optimize metabolism and may accelerate weight loss.7


Adopting this kind of routine can also improve other aspects of your life, not just your weight. As Dr. Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, national nutrition and metabolism expert explains, “Scientists have also found that sticking to the 24-hour nourish-rejuvenation cycle not only preserves your muscle mass, but, with physical activity, may increase it. You’ll also activate fat burning and reduce swings in appetite.[8] Sleep quality and energy may also be enhanced.”    


EatMoreAtNight_Relax.jpgThat’s why it’s important to set yourself up for success, and front-loading your calories during the day may help. You can also plan evening activities that are just as rewarding and will help you avoid mindlessly consuming food. Take a walk after dinner or do some stretching. Draw a soothing bath or apply a face mask. Get artsy by playing an instrument or drawing.


So, the next time it’s been "one of those days," try taking a breather and find an alternative to your evening snackingyour body will thank you! 


If you’re ready to try eating with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and incorporate a healthy eating regimen into your routine, contact Jenny Craig for your free appointment today.





[1] https://www.livescience.com/45990-morning-meals-cut-evening-food-binges.html

[2] https://www.livescience.com/45990-morning-meals-cut-evening-food-binges.html

[3] http://newsroom.heart.org/news/meal-planning-timing-may-impact-heart-health

[4] https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20460

[5] https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20460



[7] Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001. 

[8] Peterson, C. Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Time-Restricted Feeding Increases Fat Oxidation and Reduces Swings in Appetite Levels in Humans.” Oral abstract presentation at: The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at ObesityWeekSM 2016; October 31 – November 4, 2016. www.obesityweek.com.

Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig

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